The Slippery Slopes of Pseudo Faith :: By Grant Phillips

Have you ever tried walking up hill on packed, slippery ice in the winter time? It’s even worse going downhill. Winter time will be here in a few months or so and we will have the opportunity to test that out.

My son-in-law loves snow, the more the better. I am not fond at all of winter. It’s cold, dead, messy and often quite slick for walking and driving. Another thing I have noticed as I get closer to the upper end of the aging scale is that, at least for me, I pretty much stay cold all winter. You may laugh now, but consider this well-known saying that was supposedly engraved on a tombstone.

“Pause, stranger, when you pass me by:
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, so you will be.
So prepare for death and follow me.”
An unknown passerby scratched these additional words on the tombstone:
“To follow you I’m not content,
Until I know which way you went.”

I’ve always liked that, but the funny thing is, it is often true of more than just death; being cold all winter for example.

Any time we walk on snow and especially ice we’re always taking a chance of falling and possibly hurting ourselves. Have you ever wondered why falling down doesn’t hurt a small child as much as a grown adult? My guess is, they’re closer to the ground and don’t have as far to go before they land.

When we were in grade school (that’s what we called it back then) we would slide standing up down a steep slope on our school yard. No fancy sleds. Didn’t even use a shovel or cardboard, just stood up and went for it. It’s fun when you’re young.

One thing that isn’t fun or funny is being duped by Satan about our stance with Jesus Christ. I fear that Satan has many professing Christians thinking they are saved and they are not.

Jesus said, “… when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)

As of 2012 the polls tell us that 71% of the American population claims to be Christian and 33.4% of those in the world claim to be Christian. I’ve also seen percentages as high as 75-80% for America. These numbers don’t surprise me. Although the percentage rate for Christians throughout the world is probably a truer figure for this country.

I’ve always stated that many will be shocked at the Rapture or upon their death (whichever comes first). Many today, thinking they are a Christian, will be rejected. I am reminded of the following Scripture passages.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Why is it that only a few find the narrow gate? There can only be one answer. “… I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Most prefer the wide gate because it allows them to be religious and have nothing changed in their lives. They really don’t want to be “of Christ” since that involves a personal relationship with Him and obedience to His Word. Religion is much better … they think.

Also, Jesus is not saying that works save us. To the contrary, to do the will of the Father is to believe on His Son.

“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:40)

Once real faith is placed in Jesus alone for salvation, he/she will be born again and will produce good works; some 30, some 60, some a 100 fold. Human works are not welcomed prior to being saved. It is by faith alone. But after salvation, works will eventually come forth because the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in the new believer.

True faith will produce works in the Christian life. Will the Christian still sin occasionally? Of course, we still have the sin nature within us (See Romans 7), but no true Christian can remain in sin and not be miserable.

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?” (James 2:14-20)

The true Christian will grow in faith and make an honest effort to obey the commands of our Savior and Lord (John 15:14), not legalistically as the scribes and Pharisees, but out of love and gratitude for His mercy.

Most of us in this country are just like many of the Jews in Jerusalem. We’re all in if there is something in it for us, but count me out if it means getting serious about Jesus.

“Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.” (emphasis mine, John 2:23-25)

In the 23rd verse the Scripture says they, “believed in his name.” The Greek word for “believed” is “pisteuo.” In the 24th verse the Scripture says that, “Jesus would not entrust himself to them.” The Greek word for “entrust” is “pisteuo.”

Many “believed” when they saw the miracles, but Jesus knew their “belief” was not real. Both “believed” and “entrust” are the same Greek word. Their faith was false and Jesus had no faith in them. He knew their public acknowledgement of Him was not true faith. It was only a pretense. Read the 24th verse and the 25th verse again.

This is where we are today. Many people are saying they “believe,” but their belief is not real. They’re like a butterfly that lands on a flower for a few seconds, and then it’s gone. They only stick around long enough to please their sweet tooth. They really don’t want to commit to Jesus for the long-term. They’re faith is not real.

These dear folks are the hardest to talk to because they think they’re “alright.” They go to church. They own a Bible. They’ve been baptized. They’ve memorized some religious verbiage that makes them sound holy. They’re okay … they think … but they’re not. They’re on the slippery slopes of pseudo faith. They’re sliding into hell, and don’t even know it. None of these things will save anyone. Only real faith that is committed to Jesus will save anyone.

If we are one of those who say we “believe” in Jesus, are we sure that He “entrust” Himself to us? We may fool each other, but we can’t fool Him.

I will close with the following Scripture, praying that we all take heed. Let us examine ourselves upon against God’s Holy Word and nothing else.

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6)

Grant Phillips


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The Gadarenes :: By Grant Phillips

Matthew (Matthew 8:28-34), Mark (Mark 5:1-21) and Luke (Luke 8:26-40) recorded the occasion when Jesus cast out demons in a place called Gadara (or Gerasa). Gadara was located on the east side of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee and visited these folks. When He arrived, Matthew tells us of two men who were possessed with demons and had been living in the tombs. Mark and Luke speak of only one of the men, perhaps because he was possessed by the greater number of demons and was more violent.

Concentrating on the one demon possessed man mentioned in Mark and Luke; we notice that the demons were called “Legion.” The Scripture says they were called Legion because they were many. During the time of Augustus, a legion was 6,826 men (6,100 foot soldiers and 726 horsemen). Was this one man possessed by 6,826 demons? I don’t know, but since they were called Legion, perhaps he was.

The demons begged Jesus to not send them to the abyss, but instead allow them to enter the herd of swine nearby. According to Mark there were about 2,000 swine in the herd. Now that’s a lot of bacon! Jesus granted their request and when they entered the herd of swine, the herd ran down the steep slopes, into the sea and was drowned. Yep, must have been a lot of demons. No wonder the demon possessed man was so strong and uncontrollable.

Obviously, there were few to no Jews in Gadara. Think about it. The Israelites would have nothing to do with swine. (Come to think of it, maybe this is where the prodigal son ventured to, but that’s for another time.)

The slaves responsible for tending the swine were so scared they fled like mice on a sinking ship and told everyone they saw what happened. Now I’m sure the owners of the swine were not happy campers. They had just lost a lot of money. The townspeople and those in the country were not delighted to hear this either. Why? Their food supply had just taken a hit. The meat department at the local grocery was nearly depleted. So they all go out for a first-hand investigation.

They get there and notice that this wild, beast of a man is clothed and in his right mind. They also notice that the herd of about 2,000 swine is gone. They look over to the sea, and there they are, dead swine floating here and there in the whitecaps.

Now I’m ready to get to the point. Two contrasts immediately come to mind when reading the closing words of our Lord’s visit to Gadara.

In Mark five we see two verses, back to back, that really tell a story. In verse seventeen we read these words from the Gadarenes that were said to Jesus, and then in verse eighteen we read what the formerly demon possessed man said to Jesus.

“Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.”

“As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him.” (Mark 5:17-18)

What a contrast. The group wanted Him gone from their presence. The one man freed from the demons wanted to go with Him.

Jesus told this one man to go instead to his own people in the cities in that area and tell them how much Jesus had done for him. He did just that, and the people were amazed.

“Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.” (Mark 5:19-20)

Then Jesus left, and crossed back over the Sea of Galilee to the other side.

Think of the times Jesus has come to visit us. What did we say, “Leave me” or “Take me with You?” The most damning sight for any person would be seeing only Jesus’ back as He walks away once we have rejected His being in our presence. The wealthy self-righteous swine owners wanted to be rid of Him, but the embarrassment of Gadara wanted to stay with Him.

Jesus proved the point over and over that “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32) What did He mean by these words? He is simply saying that the self-righteous will not listen, but the outcasts long to hear.

Think of the parable Jesus told of the Pharisee and the publican in Luke 18:9-14.

Matthew Henry comments, “too many prefer their pigs above their Savior, and so come short of Christ, and salvation through him.”

Do we prefer swine over the Savior? Have we begged Him to leave us as the Gadarenes did? No sadder words could be spoken than, “He left.” Are we too good for God? The man who knows he is a sinner yearns to hear the Words of Jesus and have His presence in his life. He will gladly go and share all that Jesus has done for him and tell of His great mercy.

If we haven’t done so as yet, we urgently need to decide today, right now, are we going to beg Jesus to leave us, or are we going to ask to go with Him?

The formerly demon possessed man got it right. The Gadarenes got it wrong. Thank goodness for the other folks in that area that Jesus told him to go back to his people and tell them what great things the Lord has done for him and of His great mercy. Many were amazed, and I’m confident some listened and were saved.

So which is it going to be, “Depart from me Jesus” or “Take me with you Jesus?”

Grant Phillips


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